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In business, professional success may come down to one critical skill that trumps all others, regardless of generation or industry, and it’s this: self-management. The new leadership. Here’s why.

Self Management IS the New Leadership

If you spend any amount of time reading the HR and staffing articles that fill social media news feeds and business magazines about attracting and managing Millennials you might come to believe that the balance of power has shifted from employee to employer. Today’s employers are admonished to offer flexible work schedules, create teams, eliminate hierarchy, do away with titles, offer cafeteria and non-traditional benefits packages and more if they expect to attract “the best and brightest” among Millennials and the younger generations that will follow them into the workplace.

What seems to be missing are articles telling Millennials and emerging generations how they can adapt, grow and develop in order to succeed, including advice that might shatter their misconceptions about what the work place will be like. Zappos, Amazon and the like have embraced hierarchy and work environments that work well for their business models; however, to think that one type of work style translates to all industries and business types isn’t logical. Companies that rely on constant invention and innovation need to be structured in a way that facilitates those activities, but the vast majority of businesses in the U.S. are not Amazon-like in work environment or organizational needs.

One size does not fit all when it comes to employers, nor does one size fit all when it comes to employees, regardless of age or assigned generation. Some people thrive in the holacracy; others, not so much. To think that one style of workplace would be best suited for everyone in a certain age group is as illogical as assuming that one type of teaching style suits all students. It’s just not true.

Here’s something that is true regardless of age, regardless of industry, regardless of work environment: Self-management is the new leadership.

Whether you work in a role with lots of goals and measures or few, whether you work in an environment with lots of oversight or little, and whether you work in a business that has lots of policies and procedures or hardly any, success in any type of business comes down to your ability to effectively manage the time and resources at your disposal, even if that only resource is you.

Self-management covers a lot of turf. It’s about managing work time in a way that is purpose-driven, focused, disciplined and productive – but that’s not all. It’s also about having self-control, and that includes time spent doing work but it also includes time spent in meetings, on teams, and time spent interacting with bosses and co-workers.

At its core, the new leadership – self-management – comes down to four main components: observation, discernment, wisdom and a bias for action.

Here are definitions for each along with synonyms that help to clarify them even more.

Observation

The action or process of observing something or someone carefully in order to gain information. In other words, you keep an eye on things. Synonyms: surveillance, scrutiny, watching, study

Discernment

The ability to judge well. In other words, you have the ability to accurately interpret what has been observed (with at least some degree of objectivity) and begin to form conclusions or strategies as to appropriate response or next steps. Synonyms: judgment, acumen, shrewdness, sensitivity, intuition

Wisdom

The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment. In other words, you have the knowledge and/or experience needed to determine which would be the best options from among possible actions or strategies that should occur next. Synonyms: understanding, intelligence, astuteness, insight

Bias for Action

The fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim. In other words, you’ve seen the problem, developed solutions, chosen the right one and you are willing and able to take action for resolution, response or progress. Synonyms: exploit, achievement, accomplishment, feat

Whether you’re a sole proprietor, part of a traditionally-structured business or a team-member in a holacracy environment, these abilities make you more valuable, more effective and more successful. If you’re an HR, staffing or recruiting professional, these abilities are going to set your best candidates apart, regardless of their age or assigned generation. If you’re a business owner who is wondering which of your staff should be developed for leadership or promotion, choose those that display these characteristics.

If you’re a Millennial – or someone even younger – who is about to enter the workforce, these are the attributes that will help you grow, adapt and succeed over the course of your professional career, perhaps more so than any other skills you have. Self-management is the new leadership (and it was the old leadership, too!)

As a new franchise owner you are probably keenly aware that you face all the same challenges faced by any new small business owner. Here are four tips that can help you be a better leader as a first-time boss, right out of the gate.

First-Time Boss – 4 Leadership Tips for New Franchise Owners

At the end of the day, the success of your new franchise might come down to leadership more so than any other factor, so here are four important ways you can improve your leadership abilities.

If you have just opened up your first franchise business or you are considering franchise opportunities that will allow you to become a small business owner for the first time, you probably have a fairly long list of priorities to accomplish. One “to do” item that might not have made your list yet is improving your leadership abilities, but we would like to make the case for putting this priority high up on your list.

Is leadership really that important? The CEO Institute sums it up this way, “Leadership is the major factor that makes everything work together seamlessly; without leadership, all other business resources are ineffective.”

While we have all come across organizations (and most of us have even worked in some) that managed to carry on and even grow with poor leaders in place, it begs the question: How much more successful could those businesses have been with good leadership at the helm?

As a new franchise owner, you probably have thought about the type of leader you want to be, especially if you have worked in an organization with bad leadership before. Though you might have the best of intentions, the pressures of acting as a leader for the first time (especially in light of all the other challenges you will face as a business owner) might cause you to revert to some of the negative leadership styles you have seen demonstrated before.

First-Time Bosses – 4 Key Leadership Principles for Franchise Owners

Focus and Vision

“The leader’s singular job is to get results.” Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, writing on Harvard Business Review

There will be many, many situations and problems that arise in the life of a franchise business that have the power to distract franchise owners from the goals they need to remain focused on in order to run a successful business. When focus is lost, and key goals are no longer the focus of day to day priorities, organizational vision goes by the wayside too.

The Big Picture

“A leaderless organization is like an army without generals.” The Importance of Leadership in BusinessSmall Business Chronicle

Franchise employees aren’t foot soldiers, but the analogy is worth evaluation. Soldiers on the front line don’t usually have the big picture; they see only a small portion of the battlefield. They can only be successful with leadership that understands how to effectively deploy all of the units, weapons and strategies to achieve victories in individual battles; and ultimately, to ‘win the war.’

New franchise owners – even those that find themselves fulfilling ‘front line’ roles within the business as so often happens in the early days of any small business – must also maintain perspective relative to the big picture. You have to know how all the parts of your franchise business need to work together in order to achieve the short and long range goals you have for the organization.

Self-Awareness and Empathy

“When good leadership is in place in a company, it can be felt throughout the entire organization… Bad leadership can also be felt throughout the entire organization – only not in a good way.” Good Leaders Are Invaluable To A Company. Bad Leaders Will Destroy It. Forbes Magazine

In the early days of a franchise business, the franchise owner might be the only leader. As the business grows or new franchise opportunities open up and are added to the organization, more leaders will be put in place. Franchise owners must be aware not only of how their leadership style affects the organization, but must also be empathetic to how their employees are faring under the other leaders and managers in the organization. Leaving a bad leader in place anywhere in the franchise will be a drag on productivity and morale.

Doing Things Right vs. Doing the Right Thing

“A leader is someone who does the right thing, whereas a manager does things right. Or to put it another way, management is an occupation, leadership is a calling.” Importance of Developing Leadership SkillsBusinessDictionary.com

There is no final destination on the journey toward becoming a good leader; it’s a constant evolution. Don’t be afraid to ask trusted peers, friends, and even the people who work for you how you can improve as a leader, and make it safe for them to give you constructive feedback. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to move people out of leadership roles they are not ready or suited for. Don’t be afraid to recognize and reward staff members who step up inside or outside of their regular roles. Hire smart people who are good for your organizational culture, equip them to move and be ready to take a few chances on their recommendations.

As you grow your new franchise or open up new franchise locations, remember that you will constantly be given opportunities to learn new things about yourself and others that can make you a better leader. The more you risk changing yourself, the greater your potential reward.

You might also like: Sole Props – The Rise of Independent Workers in the US – Infographic

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